Any Fly Fisherman worth his stripes picks up trash when he or she is on the water. Apparently it’s in our nature to try and keep nature pristine, and not just for appearances sake. Trout are indicator species of water quality, and trash is a first sign that things are going downhill in the environment.
Plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast food wrappers — and not to point fingers — styrofoam bait containers and bottles of salmon eggs are pretty common detritus to be found streamside. More and more, however, a single category of refuse seems to be floating to the top of the list: single-use plastic water and drink bottles.
Fly Fisherman Senior Editor Ross Purnell did a little research on the issue last spring, and came up with some staggering numbers. “America produces about 50 billion single-use plastic water bottles each year, and annually recycles only 23 percent. That means 38 billion water bottles go into landfills each year or worse become litter along our rivers, lake shores, and coasts. Globally the problem is even worse with 200 billion bottles manufactured every year, and estimated 10 percent of those end up floating in the ocean in giant garbage patches.”
In response, premium angling eye wear manufacturer Costa has stepped up to address the problem, taking the initiative via a pilot program in cooperation with Yeti coolers and one of the country’s leading guide services, World Cast Anglers. Peter Vandergrift of Costa has embarked on a mission to make sure every guide service in the nation won’t have single-use bottles in their supplies within five to ten years.
World Cast Anglers owner Mike Dawes determined that his stable of 45 guides was using 40,000 to 50,000 single use bottles every season. In 2016, that number was dropped to zero, thanks to Costa donating 6,000 reusable, stainless steel bottles that were given to each guest, and Yeti providing the guide staff with massive 64 ounce Rambler refill bottles and the best soft coolers in the industry to put them in.
As part of Yeti’s ongoing and excellent series of videos that showcase the issues and culture of fly fishing, the following short film illustrates how a relatively small investment directed toward change can pay big dividends. As an industry, fly fishing and outfitting is more immediately dependent than most in regards to sustainable practices safeguarding the natural resources that are the basis for the sport. In the long run, it can hopefully serve as a model for success for the broader economy and the health of the planet we all live on.